October 4, 2017, Mexico
If you’re taking a boat to Mexico or buying a boat you think you might someday take to Mexico, you must be sure that everything is in order with regard to the Temporary Import Permit (TIP). If not, you could have big problems. Some things to remember:
- There can only be one TIP per boat. If you try to get a new one while one already exists, it will pop up on the computer.
- TIPs are non-transferable.
- If you’re selling a boat that still has an active TIP, your boat isn’t worth as much as it otherwise would be.
OKAY, now let's talk about trying to get a Temporary Import Permit (TIP) for your boat. At $55 for 10 years, the price is ridiculously right.
But the process can be so very wrong. In theory, you should be able to get one online, which some people actually manage to do. Others are stymied by questions posed by the program they can't answer. For example, one Baja Ha-Ha entrant reports the program asked what brand of boat he had. But Hans Christian was not listed, nor was there a place for 'other'. He was stopped dead in his tracks, as he couldn't proceed with picking a brand, and didn't want to enter Hatteras or something. This has happened to many applicants, and the one thing you don't want is the wrong information on your TIP.
Several sources report that you can get a TIP for your boat at some Mexican consulates. Which ones? Nobody seems to know. (See below for excellent news on this front.)
If you call the Mexican consulate in San Diego, you'll never find out if you can get one there because as soon as you press the button for 'import permits', the phone hangs up. Don't feel bad, it immediately hangs up when you press any other button, too. The San Diego consulate is notorious for never answering the phone. And for hanging up in the middle of calls, too.
So we called the consulate in Los Angeles. We got a five-minute rapid-fire recording in Spanish, followed by a hang-up.
Lastly, we called the consulate in San Francisco. Nobody answered the extension after about 100 rings. And we thought AT&T, Comcast, and the DMV were bad.
Baja Insider is often a good source of information. Here's what they had to say:
"First you will you will need to obtain your Temporary Import Permit. These are not expensive and can be obtained via the Mexican consulate office closest to you, at the border from the CIITEV units in the Customs office of entry, or through this page on this Mexican Government page: www.sportfishinginmexico.com.
Documents required in order to obtain a TIP are:
1. Original current vessel documentation or registration that proves ownership.
2. Applicant's ID (Passport).
3. For vessels registered under a Corporation or LLC, notarized letter to authorize the vessel operation to master operating it.
Alas, the Insider’s link to CIITEV units takes you to their homepage, leaving you back at square one. And they left out something else you need. See below.
According to the Discover Baja Travel Club's very pleasant Maythe Cataldo, it's not true that you can get a TIP at every consulate. (She's right about this as, for example, you can't get one at the consulate in San Diego.) But she didn't know the consulates where you could get one and the ones where you couldn't.
Other than that, Make sure she knows her stuff and reports she's already obtained a bunch of TIPs and visas for members of this year's Ha-Ha fleet. It takes about two weeks. Her organization charges the normal $55 for the TIP, $45 for their fee, but also requires you pay $39 to join their club. And if you want her to get the visas for you so you don’t even have to go to the bank in Cabo, it's another $35.
If frustration drives you crazy, it might be money well spent — a couple of Ha-Ha entrants said they thought it was. Maythe, who knows all about the Ha-Ha, can be reached at 800 727-2252.
Other sources say it's no problem to get a TIP at the border from Customs at Otay Mesa or Tecate, but not at San Ysidro. But in some cases, that might only be for trailerable boats you can bring there. Or maybe only when certain clerks wait on you. With Mexico, you never can be sure. You'll have to get accustomed to such inconsistency and uncertainty.
The default, of course, is simply sailing to Mexico with nothing but your boat documentation, passports, and authorization letter if the boat is owned by a trust or corporation. To date, nobody in the Ha-Ha has ever had a problem doing this. Nor has there ever been a problem walking into the immigration office at Cabo and paying the $25 or so for a 180-day tourist visa.
It wasn't/isn't possible, however, to get a TIP in Cabo, because they don't have a military bank (Banjercito) where you have to pay the $55. So these folks couldn't get TIPs until they went to Pichilingue (La Paz), Mazatlan, or Puerto Vallarta. But when they went to Customs in any of those places, there wasn't a problem.
Nonetheless, the sooner you get a TIP, the better because many marinas won't let you in unless you have one. This is a result of a giant government fiasco a few years ago that scared the daylights out of everyone, including marina owners. Now that's ancient history.
Every boat owner we know going to Mexico wants to comply with Mexican law, but lordy, they make something that should be so easy, so difficult. A slight improvement in the software would solve it all. So would listing which consulates can give your boat a TIP. The biggest help of all would be clear instructions that worked.
But the bottom line is: Don't sweat it.
P.S. Unless somebody can report they got a TIP for an oceangoing boat at a Mexican consulate in the United States, or from Customs at Otay Mesa or Tecate, we're pretty much done with this subject. We've given you proven options, you just have to choose the one that suits you.
Update #1: Ha-Ha entrant Dwight Strenbakken reports that he visited the Mexican consulate in Sacramento and was able to get a TIP for his boat in "maybe 15 minutes." He described the staff as being "very efficient and accommodating."
Update #2: Ha-Ha entry Greg Kircher reports that he was able to get a TIP for his boat at the Mexican consulate in Los Angeles. According to him, "The process was pretty straightforward, and the requirements were:
1) The boat documentation original and a copy of same.
2) The registration for the dinghy and a copy of same. This was a requirement and the dinghy is the only piece of equipment shown on the additional TIP page. (Other sources don't mention the need for dinghy registration, but you absolutely want to have it with you.)
4) Authorization letter if you are not the listed owner.
Fees need to be paid by credit card. The official(s) who assisted me was helpful and efficient, and once I had all the paperwork, it only took about an hour."
Update #3: Lastly, Ha-Ha entry Ernst Schneider of Patience reports that he — and how we have no idea — found a list of all the Mexican consulates and ports of entry on the California border where you can get a TIP. Find that list at www.banjercito.com.mx/PDF/Modulos_iitv.pdf. Note that you cannot get a TIP at the consulate in San Diego, but you can at others, such as Sacramento, Los Angeles, and San Bernadino. The list suggests that you can get a TIP at Customs at San Ysidro, but other sources say you cannot. We suggest Otay Mesa, which in any event is probably less crowded.
Why the Mexican government hasn't made this information widely available is a mystery to us. But then there are many mysteries in Mexico.
We consider the information above to be all you need to select the option you want for getting your TIP.
Thank you so much for reporting on this issue. It's easy for things to go sideways in dealing with Mexican law!
Below is the Corsair Pulse 600 that was delivered into Puerto Vallarta, Mexico by 180 Marine.
December is a dumb time to buy a boat in the U.S.